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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Things have changed since Oakland hosted 2006 NCAA tournament

This will appear in Sunday's print edition of The Oakland Press with the main story about Oakland hosting the NCAA tournament at The Palace.   
  • The most significant change to the tournament itself is the addition of three teams to the field when the NCAA created the “First Four,” a play on the existing “Final Four” conclusion to the tournament, in 2011. The field now consists of 68 teams and begins play March 19 in Dayton, Ohio.     
  • The courts are the most obvious change to the tournament. The NCAA has stripped venues and host schools of any hint of a local connection. Around these parts, this is known as “The Oakland rule,” after the Rochester school got hip to the marketing opportunity at its disposal in 2006. A large cursive “Oakland University,” without any of the traditional Oakland logos, ran from center court to near the 3-point arc. 
  • TV coverage: Turner Sports has vastly expanded its coverage on television and the web. Utilizing the various cable networks at its disposal, Turner turned TruTV and other forgotten cable channels into March Madness mavens, soaking up the ratings boost as well. Last season, Turner and CBS, which broadcasts tournament game exclusively once the field is narrowed to just eight teams, jointly launched an online companion platform for last season’s tournament which featured coverage of each of the tournament’s opening-round games. This season, the NCAA has created a YouTube channel where users can watch highlights, for free, of recent March Madness highlights, including those created at The Palace in 2006. 
  • Social media: In its infancy as “Web 2.0” in 2006, it will likely play a big role in the user experience for CBS and Turner, not to mention alter the way many fans digest the tournament from their couches or bar stools.  
  • Rise of the mid-majors: George Mason in 2006 became the first so-called “mid-major” to make the Final Four since Pennsylvania in 1979. With increasing parity in college basketball, schools from lesser-known conferences, such as Butler in 2010 and 2011, have become a more frequent occurrence in the tournament’s crown jewel. Oakland University competes in the Summit League, a conference, which like other mid-majors, typically only receives on bid to the tournament field. Men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe attributes the ascension of small conference schools in part to the NCAA’s acceptance of “one-and-dones,” players who depart for the NBA after just one season in college, which has created a more level playing field.
Tickets for second- and third-round NCAA tournament games at The Palace can be purchased at, all Ticketmaster outlets and, The Palace Ticket Store inside the West Atrium or by calling (248) 377-0152.


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